One thing I love is that we are raising little travellers. It's a deliberate choice, and does mean that other we prioritise things differently from many families, but it's something I am grateful for. And am reminding myself of, as I look at our broken oven in the kitchen where I type this ;) We're still lucky that it's possible, absolutely, and it requires determination. One car, not two. Waiting and budgeting for that new oven. Planning and tracking and dreaming. We choose travel, and I love that.
When we were returning through Australian border control, Cedar was telling the customs officer that his backpack was from Japan. But that we just came from America. They do find it exciting, but it's also a repeating theme of their life experience. While they each had the same challenges and occasional meltdowns when travelling as they do at home, all of the kids found things to like and enjoy in the different places we visited. And I hope we are also teaching them that some family activities are motivated by us, the parents, and what we would like to experience. (I may have had to explain that to them a few times when they all wanted to just stay in playing Minecraft...)
It feels like I'm writing with a slightly melancholy tone, though it's just that I have a lot of brain clutter going on... pulling out specific thoughts is like putting my hand into a bowl of spaghetti to retrieve a lost tooth. Or something like that, anyway. The 'back to normal' transition, still, perhaps, with a normal that is fairly chaotic at the best of times, LOL.
So, our Northwest trip, the quick overview version: We flew from Melbourne, via Auckland to San Francisco, where we stayed at Fisherman's Wharf. After four days we took an overnight train to Portland, Oregon. Cedar thought the sleeper train was the best thing ever! He was so excited. Unfortunately Amtrak lost our luggage, so when we arrived at Portland we had to dash out to buy underwear for everyone and a few essential changes of clothes. Our Portland hotel had given us a huge room upgrade, though, so that was amazing.
After a few days in Portland, we took the train to Vancouver, BC (Canada). Arriving in Canada in almost the middle of the night was interesting... Poor Cedar had to be woken up to go through customs in the train station. Vancouver was a full three days, and then an early departure to catch the train again. This time to Seattle, Washington, where we spent the next 6 days. Finally, we flew back to San Francisco for one last day - organising ourselves and last minute souvenirs - before flying home. The kids loved flying, as well. Independent entertainment control was probably the highlight there ;)
Things we learned along the way:
- People will still stop and offer assistance if you seem to look confused while trying to find street signs. So kind :)
- Pork Belly makes a pretty spectacular cubano. SO yum.
- Good coffee can be found in America. Really. (And by 'good' I mean a strong espresso / latte to our personal taste). You just have to be more deliberate / discerning about what you are looking for than in Melbourne. Though I am pretty fussy anywhere, so I'm used to that ;)
- Exact coin change for a bus ticket is a lot more tricky when you have to buy five of them. Sorry Vancouver, that didn't really work for us.
- Raccoons are really cute.
- A submarine tour is really not a great place for a strong / heavy 10 year old to have a meltdown. Especially if they run to a schedule.
- Alaska Airlines were awesome. Even though it was our shortest flight, the kids were invited into the cockpit and the flight attendant gave them all "wings" pins to wear. Plus everyone was super nice.
- It's fun to make friends in new places. That was a real highlight for all the kids.